Off the Beaten Path: Fire on the Mountain!

"This morning, I went out to help before dawn...with a group of people at the ready to extinguish flames on the Mountain. Near la Manantial [the spring] - you know the place. It was a very good adventure. It made me feel useful as a person of the planet...

"Some drunk youth on a motorcycle caused the fire...

"I gave my opinion that we needed firefighters and the armed forces, but they did not want to come. I don't know why. In reality they have all the tools. I don't understand why that is...

"In the end, they arrived after a lot of pressure from politicians. The armed forces, the firefighters, civil protection and citizens worked together..."

A week ago, I messaged the young nurse to see how she was doing with her recovery from COVID-19. I was not expecting to receive news of a fire. She assured me she felt much better (she was quite sick for about 4 days, and 10 days in quarantine). I asked her if she was sure her lungs were ready to fight a fire.  She assured me she was very well, sent these photos, and gave me permission to share her story.

This young woman is a fighter with a strong servant heart.  It does not surprise me that she is a member of a volunteer, citizen fire brigade.  As an ER nurse, she is well-equipped to handle crisis situations.  But more powerful than her courage and her training, is her love for the Mountain, and especially for La Manantial.

My first visit to Dulce Nombre de María happened before the nurse lived there and before I knew that her familial roots are there.  My first visit was to learn and explore as a tourist; subsequent visits have been to spend time with families, hang out in their homes, and go to their special places.  One of those special places is la Manantial.

Technically, the name of the place is Parque Acuático Las Manantiales de la Montaña (Aquatic Park Springs of the Mountain).  If you are from Dulce Nombre, you just say "la Manantial." Let's take a virtual tour of the Spring on the Mountain...

From the main street in Dulce Nombre de María, simply head up the mountain.
This photo was taken during the rainy season, and the clouds
periodically enveloped us as the altitude increased.

This photo gives a pretty good idea about the road.  Traveling
to La Manantial can be done in a car, but this soil is pretty slippery
in the dry season and treacherous in a downpour.  I recommend
a 4 wheel drive vehicle.

Dulce Nombre is known for the nearby waterfalls. During the
rainy season, small falls like this one are common sites along the road.

Once you make it to La Manantial, the views are amazing.  On a clear day,
you can see the San Salvador Volcano, the San Vicente Volcano, the Guazapa
hills, Lake Suchitlán, and the mountains of Chalatenango and Honduras.
This photo was taken in January, which is in the dry season.  In February and March,
fires in the mountains are extremely dangerous.  This is the area which the
volunteer firefighters went to put out the flames a week ago.

La Manantial is an aquatic park with 3 lovely pools.  The pools are 
naturally filled by a spring on the site, and the water is cool and refreshing.

This little one is playing house, right in the spring next to the pools.

A large covered porch hugs the edge of the mountain, and small 
gazebos surround the pools.  There is a restaurant, space for camping and
cooking out, and recently, hotel lodging.

Each time we visit, there are are a few more "formal" things
added, but it is still a pretty simple and rustic vibe.

A naturally wooded area has a train for hiking,

If you want a swing with a view, here you go!

A view.

One time, they offered brief pony rides for a dollar.

La pascua - do you recognize this plant?

This is the view of the road descending from La Manantial back to 
the main road up the mountain.  The gate is the landmark
which shows you where the entrance is.  In El Salvador,
it really is important to note your landmarks.

Coming back down the mountain during the rainy season.
¡Adios, La Manantial, hasta la próxima vez!

This was Destination #5 on our Pandemic Tour of El Salvador 2021!  Where will we go next???


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